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September 25th, 2011

Time to come clean

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Jem
Okay, I caved. 13 episodes of Nikita and counting.

I originally boycotted this show because it stole SPN's timeslot. Now, however, they've cleverly outmanuevered fannish vendettas by lining up the one and only Julie McNiven as a guest star, which is a total game changer. Anna I will love you forever, I sat through friggin' Battlestar Galactica for you.

This show is a complete Alias wannabe, but with a lot of redeemable things, especially its high count of powerful female characters and racially diverse cast. They use flashbacks much, much more than I would like -- at first I liked the ones about how Alex and Nikita met but now there's one with every random plotline. Even pointless ones. But Nikita also has a nice grasp on the subtle and they're not afraid to try out different narrative techniques with the episodes. Well, by now they'll have found their rhythm, but it was pretty good in the beginning.

1. Nikita -- The titular femme fatale is ostensibly the best and most rounded character. Cool as a cucumber and fabulously nuanced, she's a little like Dean except more petite and better at supressing her emotional baggage. Nikita is tactical and fearless; she knows when to cut her losses but she's a also a fierce believer in doing what's right. She has a grace and wisdom akin to that of Teddy Altman. I currently ship her hardest with Owen, the rogue guardian she briefly partnered with in Chile, even though it's clear her series arc love interest is Michael.

2. Michael -- Played by the one and only Shane West of furby baby-tee infamy, Michael is Nikita's former mentor and second in command to the ruthless Percy. As such he cleans up a lot of Division's messes while Percy goes and straightens his tie clip in a mirror somewhere. Michael had a wife and daughter once before they died and he got recruited. With his character I actually ship him the most with Alex -- in her he sees all the potential Nikita had without any of his own mistakes. And yes, there *has* been a scene where Michael aimed a gun while wearing nothing but his black boxer briefs.

3. Alex -- Nikita's protege and mole inside division. She is resourceful and skilled, but also emotionally and socially stalled for most of the first season. The coolest thing about her is that she is Russian, but she hardly ever speaks it. If this were not the CW we would have more scenes about her experience as a sex slave (possibly with the surprisingly fabulous young actress who plays the younger Alex) and her life pre-Nikita (which is honestly more interesting, really) but instead of edgy scenes of her preteen self shooting up, we get flashbacks of her wealthy family at Christmas. Maybe HBO can do the prequel... I ship Alex with Jaden, her rival recruit inside Division; omg so perfect y/y?

4. Jaden -- The best character besides Nikita herself who the show was REALLY, REALLY STUPID TO KILL. Girlfriend was ten kinds of awesome and fierce, she could have been a massive asset to the series' overall plot but instead some writer or producer seriously fucked up and now Jaden is dead. They had *just* revealed some of her wicked awesome backstory too. Adding insult to injury, her killer was the utterly worthless and flat Nathan. Jaden/Alex would have been infinitely better! She thought she hated Alex because Tom was into her, but actually Jaden was into Alex herself and just couldn't figure it out. GUYS THEY WERE GOING PLACES WITH HER CHARACTER, JADEN WAS READY TO BE FRIENDS LOVERS, AND THEN ALEX COULD HAVE BROUGHT HER OVER TO THE GOOD SIDE. FUCK THIS. IF THIS WERE SPN THEY COULD HAVE BROUGHT HER BACK.

5. Amanda -- aka The Inquirer. Scary as hell, Amanda is another fantastically charged female role. She is extremely high level; poised, polished, aloof, and a master of torture and mental/emotional maniuplation. Her motives are unknown, as are her origins, but I suspect they will never fully develop her character because one of those cheesy flashbacks revealing Amanda's innocent days would kill the mystique that makes her so awesome. I ship Amanda with everyone, but especially Percy. They're into BDSM in Division's after hours.

6. Owen -- The rogue guardian Nikita totally should have hooked up with, but didn't. His girlfriend Emily was killed by Division, but she was actually Maya from PLL and he only has to look in Rosewood to find her dating... Emily. Anyway, Owen is tragically addicted to Division steroids and keeps getting tattoos. In other words, Owen is the bad boy Michael wishes he was, but will never be no matter how much black leather he wears.

7. Nathan -- The Dan Gordon. Pretty blond love interest for Alex who will quickly be written off and scooped up by the CW to be recycled into one of their single-season 90210 knockoffs.

8. Birkhoff -- Division's IT guy/completely undimensional stock character/comic relief. Also for some reason he is the only character to have a first and last name.

9. Percy -- Stock powerful white guy in charge of operations. He wears tie clips and manipulates everybody to his own selfish ends. Who the hell was this guy's predecessor?

Okay by the time I finished writing this, I'm all caught up into the current season. I'm enjoying it, but it's still at the bottom of my TV must-sees. Some pretty cool shit going on though. The standout scene was Nikita storming the training room filled with recruits all trying to prove themselves by going after her, and taking them all while dramatic music plays and Percy watches through the window. BUT I WILL NEVER FORGIVE THEM FOR KILLING OFF JADEN, IT ALMOST MAKES ME WANT TO NOT WATCH.

July 14th, 2011


Among the more awesome things about being here this summer is that Deathly Hallows, Pt. II got relased on Wednesday. Which was yesterday. And seriously last night my brain was so full of amazing imagery and music and holy omfgness that I couldn't sleep. Normally I am distracted by subtitles, but this was really SO intense that I barely even noticed it. But why is Dumbledore's name in Italian Professore Silente instead?

OMFG I CANNOT GET OVER THIS.Collapse )

March 29th, 2011

She lives! Sort of

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Jem
Yes I am alive, yes I am still miserable, yes I have spend half my spring break abed and ill. RAWR. But I finished editing that Ascast ep! I am (sort of) half done with my Inferno paper. I have spent the last four days watching Grey's anatomy episodes and feeling crappy. BUT. I did discover this:

(I think I previously had a favorite short film that I adored, but it's been totally obliterated from my mind. DOES GOD PLAY FOOTBALL HOLY OMFG.)



A young Kevin McKidd runs arounds around in a priest cassock, and stars alongside Helen McCrory (Narcissa Malfoy) and the cutest kid in the whole freaking world. Really. And did I mention it contains every single fannish kink I have? REALLY. I almost feel like this little short was made explicitly for my own personal fangirl joy! It is loaded with adorableness and rife with visual symbolism, and shot in this pefect vintage style where I would totally believe it was made in 1993, not 2003. Um, you should totally watch it. I've watched it like five times and still can't get enough.

Also while I was sick I watched the Percy Jackson movie. I would have done this sooner if I had known his Scottish hotness had also graced it! (And LOL Adam, what were you doing there? Are there SPN vids for this?!) The whole concept of the series still annoys me, but um, Kevin looks fab in that scaly armor and skirt. Yum.

February 1st, 2011

Velasquez Victory

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Jem
Junior seminar is a required class offered every semester by a different professor. It usually focuses on one artist, any artist from any period, and lining up a good artist to match your concentration basically depends on luck with your credits/schedule. Given the overwhelming amount of modern art focus in the program, I could have ended up with someone *really* lame and stupidly famous like Jackson Pollock, but I got WAAAAAAAY lucky and ended up with Velasquez. SCORE. He's perfect! A transitional figure and Spanish, which is juuuuuust right for me because Spanish art is something that's always covered in a class or two but not in depth, because the bigger picture is usually biased toward the Italian and French. So it will be challenging but with enough relatable material that I won't be frazzled. I am SO happy.


Other classes I am taking:Collapse )

January 11th, 2011

A Little About Arizona

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Lizzie Siddal
 In light of recent events...

Arizona was always on my list of potential places to move after graduation because it is west, where I want to go (away from my northeastern liberal bubble, as my one of my professors put it), because it is beautiful (Stargirl is set there, enchanted places!), and because Hamlet 2 was filmed in Tuscon. Grad school for art history is also dirt cheap out there. (Upon reflection, this is probably because there aren't really museums, big pieces, or classical-specific cultural communities out there; I understand that much of the art vibe is newer, Georgia O'Keefe skulls-type stuff. Which sounds kind of awesome and fresh right now.) And it's just *different* -- they have cactuses (cacti?) and I'm pretty sure it doesn't snow there!

But after the immigration law was passed -- it *still* astonishes me, really -- and the media started zooming in on Arizona, it became clear that it was not such an enchanted placed after all. This is the NYT article I was reading when I tweeted "What the hell is going on in Arizona?" on Saturday morning; the shooting happened a few hours later, while I was at work. It felt like some eerie turn of fate when I heard the news. It's absolutely heartbreaking, shocking, and I'm glad that at least this is calling attention to the volatile political bickering that has lately been so bad, things like the Rally to Restore Sanity are happening. But from what we're hearing about the little nine-year-old girl who died, we probably just lost our future female President, a federal judge is dead and Rep. Giffords is in a medically induced coma. It makes me sick to my stomach. Sometimes it's easy to forget that not all problems can be solved with an inspiring speech, a sincere explanation, or a fancy dinner, like they are on The Clone Wars.

I just finished with this really insightful article from last July. (It is awesome uses architecture as a comparative device, win.) I go to a state school so I'm always hearing about the problems up in Albany, higher ed cuts, tax arguments etc, but when I look at what's happening in Arizona their issues seem so much worse, fundamentally.

The anti-government attitude in Arizona is now reflexive, especially because of its entanglement with the issue of immigration. As one local resident, who didn’t want to be identified because she has a government job, told me: “People who have swimming pools don’t need state parks. If you buy your books at Borders you don’t need libraries. If your kids are in private school, you don’t need K-12. The people here, or at least those who vote, don’t see the need for government. Since a lot of the population are not citizens, the message is that government exists to help the undeserving, so we shouldn’t have it at all. People think it’s OK to cut spending, because ESL is about people who refuse to assimilate and health care pays for illegals.”

Whatever else may be happening, it's clear that bad things are brewing in Arizona, and I hope that we don't have to have another tragedy for something for things to start getting done. I don't know if Arizona will be a fit for me after I graduate -- now I feel both a revulsion and a pull to help create change. My thoughts go out to all the victims.

December 13th, 2010

Okay, so finals started last week and I have been CRUNCHING trying to juggle final portfolios, essay writing, Italian verbs, enormously time-gobbling long shifts at my annoying retail job, and all the slides I need to cram down my throat. In short, I have not been sleeping much. But I'm thinking that maybe it's become a problem, because during the Dutch exam, this slide came up and... um, I think I started hallucinating.

A. Bosschaert the Elder, Flowers in a Glass, 1606


During the test I was supposed to be writing about this, but while I was looking at it and trying to glean out significant details, I started to see a face in the flowers. An angry one. In the middle there, where the two yellow flowers are. And a cat-eye thingy that looks like a nose? And that white lily that could be a puckered mouth, with that weird yellow-orange bud that sort of like an angry upturned cigar? And the leaves of eyebrows that are so disapprovingly intense?

Anyway, I started freaking myself out over the angry face that didn't exist and those yellow flowers were possibly shifting into the eyes of Azazel, and the four minutes we have per slide was ticking away, I had written nothing, and it would have been a REALLY GOOD TIME to pull a peppermint out of my pocket and chill out, but I didn't have one.

I got through the rest of the test okay, but now I am going to nap and hope that when I wake up I can no longer see Angry Azazel. Happy break to those who are done, and if you are still knee-deep, I recommend the Hercules soundtrack for a burst of encouragement. Go the distance baby!

December 5th, 2010

There has been a lot of outcry over the torture scene in Caged Heat, that I agree with -- I'm always happy to raise the feminist hackles in the name of female exploitation (who else hates the phrase "rape shower" ?) but honestly, while Meg's scene was terrible for so many reasons, I have to admit that I was not bothered by the original scene with Ruby in S4. In my opinion, there are a LOT of crucial differences that need to be addressed.

The scene with Ruby was shot with close camera angles in a very tight space that was mostly shadowy and dark. We only ever got partial shots of her nude body, and they were things like close ups on a clenching fist or her feet straining against the bonds or the blade of the knife. It was claustrophobic and psychologically charged, and of course Alastair is AWESOME. We also got a shot of Ruby's bloody gash, too. 

But with Meg, we start off with a full body pan that includes her lower body (we never saw Ruby's) and lots of gratuitous flesh shots. It's a *very* well lit open space and the focus of all the shots is pretty clear: her exposed body, period. We didn't even get a shot of any wounds -- so that's seriously the whole point, torture has like nothing to do with it! Also, Christian is boring and flat and brought nothing to the scene; he *so* does not have the dramatic flair of Alastair. And the dialogue was just a bunch of super insensitive rape innuendo. LIKE WTF?

I guess what I'm saying is that Ruby's torture scene was done as artistically as possible, where Meg's was much cheaper and showy. Neither scene really contributes to the plot anyway; but they're two different brands for sure.

This is just another instance where Sera Gamble tries to pull off something that Kripke had already done earlier, but misses the mark and that certain je ne sais quoi, and whatever she's trying to do becomes the less awesome, unepic b-side ripoff. In this case, it also becomes inappropriate and insensitive. In conclusion, I love Pizza!Cas.


Right now I'm sitting in an ugly break room with aching feet. Very late tonight, I will go home to enormous amounts of homework. I hope you all are in happier places than I.



EDIT: Visual me has added pictures to illustrate the points.Collapse )
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